Adam Walsh Act Waiver Approvals by Allan Lolly

What’s a Good Case?

Attorneys and others ask the ingredients for a successful AWA waiver.  Is it that certain types of crimes have more leniency?  A particular case profile?  The petitioner?  A set of documents or processing methods? Clients call worried and upset because there is no apparent connection between a criminal offense involving a child and proving no threat to an adult spouse or other family member.  The couple is normally satisfied with the relationship; there is no history of domestic violence.  The original offense did not include a violence.  What’s the concern? I reviewed our approvals in some detail and am not coming up with a particular profile.  Approvals are varied.  Some crimes seem less severe than others, but we’ve gotten approvals on some more serious offenses as well.  So, the seriousness of the offense is not necessarily a decisive factor.  Here are some things to think about:

The USCIS Officer

View everything from the standpoint of a USCIS officer.  They are instructed not to approve unless they are totally satisfied with the case.  “[A]pproval recommendations should be rare…” (USCIS Neufeld Memo 2008 at p. 2).  It’s not only the risk to the spouse, or other foreign beneficiary.  You should assume that many or most USCIS officers don’t like these cases.  Imagine that, for purposes of case preparation, they do not want a sex offender to live in the same neighborhood as them.  This should be your mindset when preparing your case so that you appreciate the rigor it takes to try and obtain approval.  There are concerns about harmful behavior toward children; forgiveness is very difficult to come by.

The Spouse

Why would an innocent spouse want to marry a convict?  Is the foreign spouse in it for the green card?  Does the female need protection?  Is she willing to live under threat in the home in order to get the green card?  The new victim can be saved by returning her to her home country unharmed.


Why not divorce?  More than half the marriages in the U.S. end up in divorce.  Why save this one?  Split up and make things easy for the adjudicating officer.  Why are you worth saving?

The Psychologist

Psychological evaluations are helpful, but a bit of quackery.  “Experts” are thought to be hired guns to help you out.  The USCIS officer makes the final determination, so why give much attention to a psychological evaluation, or a lie detector test for that matter?  The USCIS officer may look carefully for any weaknesses in the evaluation and seize upon them to deny. All these problems need to be worked out to have a chance at being successful in an Adam Walsh Act no risk determination.  You need to hope that the USCIS officer who is reviewing your case is not simply towing the line, but is willing to listen and consider thoughtfully.  You hope the officer has some life experience, so as to suspend popular disbelief, and hear you. The vast majority of sex offenders do not repeat offenses, and there is no apparent connection between an illegal act toward a child years ago and an offense to an adult today.  There are many studies in the field of psychology, so stereotypes and popular beliefs are largely unsupported.  The data suggests that the majority of these cases should be approved.

Think Deeply and Proceed with Caution

It’s a lot of work to try and prompt an immigration officer to listen to you and think about what is the right thing to do.  Any missteps and you lose your audience.  The case is dumped. Don’t argue.  Instead, try to be convincing and respectful. I call it getting to zero.  You are starting way back in the pack, and you have to find ways to get attention, so that an immigration officer can see this is a case worthy of his or her consideration and the officer is confident in the approval, despite all bias. An Adam Walsh Act waiver is not impossible.  It’s just a tough slog.

Call U.S. toll free 1-888-483-0311 (outside U.S. +1 212-483-0311) or use our free consultation form.



  1. Michael J Farley

    The USIG has become VERY COLD.
    This country was built on immigrants.
    Like many other couples out there, my wife and I have a beautiful marriage. We sincerely love each other, and are best friends also. We take care of each other, and support each other.
    But the USIG could seem to care less.
    We were denied our application for change of status and now we have the rough road of appealing in front of us.
    My wife and I are devastated. No appetite. Depression. Anxiety. Truly devastated.

  2. This is very helpful to my case and energized me abt my case. i have been waiting on my case for almost 4yrs now, Been denied once then I re applied again now Im waiting for approval. I dunno what to do anymore I just keep praying and praying. Hopefully one day they’re approved my case.

    • Hi Joy,
      Waiting is pretty much all you can do in this situation. The most frustrating part in this is that there is literally nobody you can talk to at USCIS. We tired several times over the long years of waiting. The closest we got was through an Infopass at the local USCIS office. However, only to learn that our file was no longer at that office but in the Vermont office. “Case pending” was the usual answer. So hang in there and if you have any further evidence of recovery or positive changes in your life that show signs of rehabilitation, then try to have your lawyer submit them to USCIS. In some cases that may be helpful, especially when it comes to yet another revision of the case.

  3. Hi Everyone, I got married to a USC (Same sex marriage) in 2014 and filed for my change of status right away but the case got eventually denied because of AWA. We did not appeal our case. I overstayed my student visa and I have been in this country for 30 years, unable to go back to my home country. I am thinking about reapplying for a green card, but I know it would not be easy. I’ve been searching all over the internet to see if anything has changed on AWA waiver cases and reading people’s comments here. I think AWA is a very unfair thing, please everyone post your updates so that we can all learn new things here!

  4. Has anyone won the case. Any update

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